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District Could Buy Laptop For Every Student If Teachers Paid Private-Sector Average For Health
Michigan Capitol Confidential ^ | 8/22/2012 | Tom Gantert

Posted on 08/29/2012 3:01:30 PM PDT by MichCapCon

This fall, East Grand Rapids Public School District is implementing a controversial program where parents of high school students are "encouraged" to provide their own laptop computers for their children to be used in school.

The plans are to start a program in the middle school in 2013-14 and in the third through fifth grades in 2014-15.

However, the school district may have a way of freeing up money to provide the computers free to students by bringing its health care costs more in line with the private sector.

Currently, the East Grand Rapids Public School teacher’s contract states that the district pays 100 percent of the health care costs for its employees as long as MESSA insurance rates don’t increase higher than a certain amount. In 2011-12, the contract states if MESSA rates increase by 6 percent or more, teachers have to cover part of that increased cost.

East Grand Rapids Superintendent Sara Shubel said teachers paid $480 a year for their health care costs in 2011-12. Shubel said the district will cap its maximum contributions for health care after the teachers’ contract expires at the end of August.

Shubel said the district has also put out to bid its health insurance services and have received bids. MESSA, considered the Cadillac of health care plans in Michigan, is a third-party administrator affiliated with the Michigan Education Association teachers union that buys health insurance from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and resells it to school districts.

Based on 2010-11 data the school district gave the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, East Grand Rapids paid $2.02 million on teacher health care for 133 teachers.

Michael Van Beek, director of education policy at the Mackinac Center, estimated that the district would save $403,000 a year once teachers started paying 20 percent of the health care costs. However, if the district did what some other districts have done and shopped for a less expensive health care plan other than MESSA, the savings would be even more.

Van Beek estimated that if the district bought health insurance that equaled private sector costs in Michigan and teachers paid 20 percent of these less expensive plans, the district's savings would jump to $672,000 a year.

Just that change would allow the school to buy about 1,800 laptops a year, based on the least expensive computer available on the school's website.

The school district has about 970 students in the high school, 740 students in the middle school and 1,270 in the elementary schools.

"One-to-one laptop programs are very promising, because they can help individualize instruction for students," Van Beek said. "But, taxpaying parents shouldn't have to pay for them in a free public school. In fact, other districts in Michigan have implemented similar programs at no cost to parents."

Shubel said any savings from health care negotiations would first be used to maintain long-term financial stability.

“The immediate savings will not be applied to individual student technology in the short term, but it is something we would consider in the future if we are able to maintain financial stability,” Shubel wrote in an email.


TOPICS: Education; Science
KEYWORDS: schools

1 posted on 08/29/2012 3:01:35 PM PDT by MichCapCon
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To: MichCapCon

$480 a year

Ergo, $40 per month.


2 posted on 08/29/2012 3:04:25 PM PDT by combat_boots (The Lion of Judah cometh. Hallelujah. Gloria Patri, Filio et Spiritui Sancto.)
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To: Springman; Sioux-san; 70th Division; JPG; PGalt; DuncanWaring; taildragger; epluribus_2
Or we could pay less taxes and let the students learn without buying computers for them.

If anyone wants to be added to the Michigan Cap Con ping list, let me know.
3 posted on 08/29/2012 3:04:31 PM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: MichCapCon

I think our society will regret this fetish spreading across the country of issuing computers to kids just because.


4 posted on 08/29/2012 3:07:25 PM PDT by DonaldC (A nation cannot stand in the absence of religious principle.)
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To: MichCapCon

I will pay for a pencil.


5 posted on 08/29/2012 3:08:32 PM PDT by hadaclueonce (you are paying 12% more for fuel because of Ethanol. Smile big Corn Lobby,)
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To: DonaldC

A good teacher could effectively teach in a barn using a few shared books and hand held slates. Its virtually how my great grandmother learned and she got a better education.


6 posted on 08/29/2012 3:09:55 PM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: MichCapCon

Maybe so, but it wouldn’t make a spit’s worth of difference in the ultimate educational results. What real use is a laptop for a student who can’t process text or do basic math? Great, he can play games and get on Facebook!

If I had my way, my family’s education would be 100% analog.


7 posted on 08/29/2012 3:12:42 PM PDT by Tax-chick (Now a hit television series starring Judi Dench!)
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To: MichCapCon

I know the point of the article - but as I side note, I have to say - students should have their laptops taken away! I think it actually hinders their learning.

Where did we get the ridiculous idea that technology is a magic wand for primary education?


8 posted on 08/29/2012 3:15:29 PM PDT by PGR88
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To: PGR88

The internet is great for furthering knowledge once the basics are learned which is where the schools should stop.

I personally don’t think the K thru 12 model is effective anyway because all kids aren’t the same.


9 posted on 08/29/2012 3:19:44 PM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: Tax-chick

ditto. throwing more money and tech will not increase performance and WILL INCREASE OBESITY IN CHILDREN. of course as long as there are teaching degrees, a jobs program (like MFAs for graphic artists) for teachers who can’t get jobs being real teachers) and anti-education unions and a dept of education in the FFFG, there won’t be any improvement.
just teaching kids at a younger age to be dependent on the FFFG (the feds)


10 posted on 08/29/2012 3:21:18 PM PDT by bravo whiskey (if the little things really annoy you, maybe it's because the big things are going well.)
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To: cripplecreek
"A good teacher could effectively teach in a barn using a few shared books and hand held slates. Its virtually how my great grandmother learned and she got a better education."

Amen to that! There shouldn't be computers in grade or high schools. They are a needless expense which do nothing to teach a young'un to think critically. But then thinking critically isn't the goal of the liberal cabal that runs education.

11 posted on 08/29/2012 3:29:16 PM PDT by gorush (History repeats itself because human nature is static)
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To: gorush

I think the old one room schools led to faster more effective learning. Kids were better able to learn as their own rate simply because if a 3rd grader could do the lessons of a 6th grader, the teacher could simply allow that. Plus the younger kids picked up a lot from the older kids.


12 posted on 08/29/2012 3:35:32 PM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: MichCapCon; Liz; AT7Saluki
If Teachers Paid Private-Sector Average For Health

Uh, oh. They aren't sucked into Commiecare™. I wonder who else is exempt.

13 posted on 08/29/2012 3:38:53 PM PDT by Libloather (The epitome of civility.)
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To: MichCapCon

I think Mumford School District is at least obtaining a laptop for every student to use and the programs will be target to the particular student that owns the laptop. High school students will be in a new school building starting next week.


14 posted on 08/29/2012 3:57:35 PM PDT by madison10
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To: MichCapCon

Yeh, maybe so, but the darn students do NOT deserve it! Make the spoiled brats buy their own!


15 posted on 08/29/2012 4:33:01 PM PDT by SgtHooper (The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list.)
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To: bravo whiskey

Good points.


16 posted on 08/29/2012 5:53:32 PM PDT by Tax-chick (Now a hit television series starring Judi Dench!)
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